The plan for the future of the Civic Theatre came before council at Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.
Andy Leathwood and Tim Pearkes made a presentation on behalf of the Nelson Downtown Athletic Club.
The audience was full of supporters from both the climbing and squash communities.
Council expressed interest in the proposal from the club, but agreed they had to follow through with a Request for proposals.
“I feel really good about the proposal, however. I also feel that before we would demolish the interior of that facility we need to make darn sure that it can’t be used as a public space for performing arts or presenting movies,” said Mayor John Dooley.
Dooley said the cost of the Civic Theatre when it was operational was a burden to the city and wondered with the popularity of Netflix whether there is a future for movies in Nelson.
“Even when it was open it was still costing the city,” he said. “The people did their very best to keep it going, but even they struggled just to keep it alive and we bent over backwards to try and accommodate that happening.”
Councillor Robin Cherbo emphasized that there is a lot of emotion surrounding the Civic Theatre and said currently Nelson is losing business to Castlegar.
“I think we said goodbye to it a long time ago when we quit supporting it,” said Dooley. “We get people that ask us all the time ‘when are you going to open it up?’ The numbers don’t lie, people just weren’t showing up… There are a lot of factors there and people will be sad because when it was built it had a lot of vision and foresight, but things change.”
The club asked that council support approval in principle for developing a more detailed financial analysis and plan to develop the facility.